Top 10 Scariest Pre-Coded Horror Comics

Before the establishment of the Comic Code Authority in 1954, comics were untouched by any form of censorship. Because of this, writers and artists published some of the most gruesome and terrifying comic stories accompanied by absolutely gray images that often appeared on the covers.

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Although more famous titles like Tales from the Crypt have stood the test of time, many classic horror comics were completely forgotten once they were pulled from the market. Despite the distance in time, many classic Pre-Code horror comics are just as terrifying now as they were in the early 1950s.


blow comics

A man fires a gun while appearing inside a giant skull from Punch Comics

Comic books of the 1940s and 1950s often dealt with multiple topics in a single issue and blow comics was no exception. Although the pages of the book generally contained superhero stories and other Western stories, it was the crime and horror segments that drew the most attention.

As the series progressed, it became clear that the horror sold more issues, and the book began to feature illustrations of gruesome acts on its book covers. Publishing throughout the 1940s, Punch delivered scary tales with a crime twist, playing on many of the terrifying stories of murder and mayhem found in the newspaper at the time.

black cat mystery

A man's face eroded by radium on the cover of Black Cat Mystery

The immense popularity of horror comics in the early 1950s enticed many publishers to transition some of their successful books in that direction. black cat mystery started out as a Golden Age superhero comic about the titular Black Cat, but soon began catering to a more ghoulish audience with its stories.

As the series progressed, the stories and illustrations became increasingly gruesome until they finally incurred the wrath of the Comics Code Authority. Even at its darkest, black cat mystery it still had a cartoonish edge to it and many of his tales ended with unexpected twist endings with a moral lesson attached.

mister mystery

A man sees a demon inside the Mister Mystery Comics subway line

Although it lacks the tempting horror title of some of its contemporaries, mister mystery however, he delivered a healthy dose of chills in every issue. With each anthology story curated by the titular Mister Mystery, the book follows the familiar format of most horror comics with a group of short horror stories involving monsters and murder.

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Although it could be seen as a copycat of the EC model from comics, mister mystery he still managed to have his own unique style of storytelling. While many of the EC stories took place in the same timeless, ethereal space as the Universal Classic Monster movies, mister mystery he often sets his tales in the present day.

witch tales

The witch peers into her crystal ball on the cover of Witches Tales

Harvey Comics had already turned to the horror game with black cat mystery by the time they started another horror series, witch tales. With each tale presented by the mysterious witch, witch tales it followed the usual horror anthology format with multiple stories in each monthly issue.

What set Sea Book apart from other horror anthology comics at the time was its unique cover style. While simplicity is often the key to most books, witch tales it often featured a busy cover with lots of things for the reader to look at. Thick blocks of text appeared alongside ghastly images and kept the potential buyer’s eye on the book.

amazing horror stories

A monster threatens a woman in a graveyard from the cover of Startling Terror Tales

To help a book stand out from a host of competitors, publishers often give their series the most catchy name possible. amazing horror stories He went straight to the heart of the matter and let the reader know exactly what he was getting with each monthly issue.

But nevertheless amazing horror stories was short-lived, it turned out to be a good addition to the Pre-Code horror lineup. The tales within were usually themed around a central premise, such as crime or great monsters, and many of the stories involved terror in distant lands. What really set the book apart was the cover by legendary artist LB Cole, who could seamlessly blend ludicrous imagery with conventional ghastly gore.

the vault of horror

A skeletal hand reaches out towards a woman from the cover of The Vault of Horror

EC Comics, in its heyday, nearly cornered the horror anthology market. the vault of terror it was one of his three flagship books and, along with his contemporaries, drew the ire of the Comics Code Authority for its gruesome content and terrifying covers.

Each of the three main EC books featured its own host and The Vault Keeper often presided over the stories within his book. However, more familiar faces like The Crypt Keeper also appeared frequently to host one of the book’s segments.

chamber of chills

A swamp monster rises from the water from the deck of the Chamber of Shivers.

Few comics came as close to the authentic feel of an EC comic as chamber of chills. Although Marvel Comics would later title one of its horror series by the same name, Harvey Comics’ chamber of chills cemented its place among some of the most memorable Pre-Code horror books.

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chamber of chills they combined sci-fi and horror stories together often in their book and were never afraid to give the audience horrible illustrations. Although anthologies are always unpredictable, of the camera the covers replicated the EC style very closely, even down to the signature title font that appeared in each issue.

the shelter of fear

An explorer is shocked when a door opens in front of him from The Haunt of Fear

EC Comics’ second flagship book, the shelter of fear it was very similar to its brothers in its style and execution. Like most anthologies, the book lived and died by its stories and EC could always be counted on to deliver the best stories in the horror comic game.

With his strange bulging eye and his long nose, the shelter of fearHosting The Old Witch was enough to terrify readers long before they made it to the stories. Readers also enjoyed spirited adaptations of classic horror stories by legendary authors such as Edgar Allan Poe and HP Lovecraft in addition to the original horror tales.

crime thriller stories

A man forces a woman up the stairs at knifepoint from Crime SuspenStories

Although EC’s horror comics have gone down in history as some of the best ever, their crime magazines can also be counted on to give the chills. crime thriller stories it told stories of gruesome crimes, both real and imagined, and spattered its pages with bright red blood.

Although the tales of monsters and ghosts were enough to freeze the reader, the frighteningly realistic stories within Crime they were responsible for some of the bloodiest moments in comic book history. Interestingly, several of the best episodes of the television series Tales from the Crypt actually came from crime thriller stories and not EC horror books.

Tales from the Crypt

A demon drags a man into a swamp from Tales From The Crypt

Starting as the least memorable Crypt of Terror, EC’s signature horror comic finally found its name and made its mark on popular culture forever. Featuring some of the scariest stories from the EC lineup, Tales from the Crypt never failed to deliver chills in every issue of the short-lived series.

Hosted by the infamous Crypt Keeper, the book’s many sardonic horror tales often featured unexpected endings where characters got what they deserved for a bad deed. The comic was so memorable that even decades after its demise, it was adapted into a movie, an extremely terrifying TV series, and spawned countless imitators and revivals within comics.

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